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 In seven years, the social networking site has grown from a project hatched in a college dorm to the largest social networking site in the world, well on its way to hitting its goal of having 1 billion users. In seven years, the social networking site has grown from a project hatched in a college dorm to the largest social networking site in the world, well on its way to hitting its goal of having 1 billion users.

By Jacob Schulman, Updated: Friday, September 23, 8:47 AM

When Facebook introduced the Timeline today at its f8 developer conference, I was blindsided by the introduction of a completely new Profile. Mark Zuckerberg’s emotional delivery made it clear that this is going to fundamentally change a website that most of us use for hours every single day — so there’s a lot riding on its success.

 

I’ve been exploring the new layout for some time tonight, so let me take you on a tour of Timeline, which is like an online yearbook for your life. While Timeline’s official rollout won’t take place for a few weeks, it’s possible to get early access by registering as a developer. After you go through the process and enable the beta feature, you’re presented with a warning: Facebook gives you one week to clean up your Timeline before it is visible to all your friends.

 

If you’re a long-time user there’s likely a lot of potential blackmail material that could surface, so you should take advantage of the grace period to star, hide, and delete everything you’ve accumulated over the years. That’s another important thing to mention right off the bat: Timeline will hold more meaning for those who have been using the service longer, and newer Facebook users might feel lonely at first. 

 

The top portion of the timeline is called the Cover (seen above), and has personal information on the left along with your friends, photos, and Likes. There’s a large space at the top for a lead photo, while your standard default is confined to a smaller overlapping box. It looks tight and sharp, and feels like a book cover you might flip open.  

 

Below the Cover is the heart of the Timeline: a prime meridian with in-line date markers that serves as a dock for all your “stories” — the activities you do on Facebook. While the old profile presented updates chronologically and stacked on top of each other, the new design splits it in two columns — meaning even more stuff with less scrolling. Staggered story sizes and locations make it feel authentic and spontaneous, while large photo previews are inviting as well as click- and touch-friendly. Of course, the Timeline doesn’t show everything you’ve ever done on Facebook, but in my brief testing it did a nice job of summarizing my past.

 

For example, when I clicked on 2008 I was presented with the status update from when I got accepted to Penn, updates from when I first started at Engadget, and memorable photos from that year. 2007 was filled with even more photos from a summer trip, event history, and the reminder that I made 208 friends (go me!). I haven’t begun drilling down on a month-by-month basis yet, but it’s sure to get nostalgic. That’s the thing about the Timeline — you’ll just keep scrolling. That’s why there will likely be a built-in grace period for users to get acclimated, because the initial backlash is sure to be thunderous.

 

I already spend way too much time on Facebook, and have a suspicion that as my friends publish their own Timelines, I will be spending even more. I also have a suspicion that “Facebook Stalking” will be more popular than ever, since it cuts out the boring, meaningless updates automatically. The current week-long adjustment period for developers may not be long enough for many long-time users to get through everything with a fine-toothed comb, and they may regret not doing so early on.

 

Another slightly unsettling part of the Timeline is its Activity Log. Accessed by hitting the large “view activity” button on the Cover, this is where every single thing you do on Facebook is saved and recorded. It kind of resembles the old profile, and keeps the recently-added inline privacy controls for each story. I do think Facebook could be a bit more up-front in their display; some sort of indicator for content that’s public or private would be more transparent than hiding it in a drop-down menu. You can still delete posts individually, but it’s slightly scary to think about how many entries will be made to this log every single time you sign on.

 

This is just a short walkthrough of Facebook’s Timeline, and I didn’t even touch upon the new Social Apps that hook into it. Facebook is clearly putting the framework in place to become your ultimate online hub, and it’s looking to personalize it and socialize it to keep you from going anywhere else. Only time will tell whether the Timeline will be a hit with users, but our online lives are about to change and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it.  

 

This article originally appeared on thisismynext.com: Facebook Timeline preview and photos: a personal tour .


Automatic video editor Magisto is now open to the public. A public which is taking more video footage than ever thanks to smartphones, but which has less time than ever to edit them before posting to the Web. These guys could be onto something.

Magisto Begins

How often have you shot hours of video and promised yourself that one day soon you’ll find the time to edit it down to the bare essentials, deleting all the parts that don’t matter, that you didn’t look right, that won’t need keeping for your grandkids to look at?

Magisto is hoping that lots of you out there answered with a resounding chorus of, “I do it all the time!” Because anyone that did is a potential customer for the Web application which automatically (perhaps automagically is more fitting) edits your videos.


Magisto Booms

Magisto is an Israeli startup previously funded by Magma Venture Partners. Magma has now reinvested alongside Horizons Ventures, the investment firm of Li Ka-Shing, currently the 11th richest person in the world. Total Series B funding has come in at $5.5 million.

The company has been in closed beta since April, with 20,000 users creating 40,000. Magisto is now open to the public and employing a freemium business plan which adds extra features such as HD video and removing the Magisto branding.

Automatic Video Editing

Magisto effectively takes the video or multiple video clips you upload to its servers, analyzes the content using all manner of different techniques that are beyond the understanding of us mere mortals, and edits the footage down into short movies.

The only user input is to choose a title and a piece of music to act as the soundtrack. The finished film will have a range of effects, including transitions, wipes, and split-screens.

Conclusions

There are existing alternatives already out there – MuVee, Animoto, WeVideo – but Magisto appears to have simplified things beyond all recognition of what any other company has achieved.

This may mean not all the clips automatically edited by the software come out as predicted, but most people will likely be happy with the results.

Netflix has taken a bit of a hit for the first time since it embraced the Internet as a means of distribution. But there is enough to suggest this is a minor blip, and that the company’s longterm future is not only assured but rosy.

Unexpected?

Netflix has had an amazing last few years, transitioning from a DVD-by-mail company into a streaming video company, and gaining millions of new customers as a result of this strategy.

However, nothing ever lasts for ever, and the incredible run of growth upon growth now seems to be slipping out of Netflix’ grasp. It has lowered its guidance on domestic subscriber numbers from 25 million customers to 24 million. This may not seem like much but it is for a company that has been exceeding expectations for a long period.

As a result of the new guidance, Netflix stock tanked on Thursday (Sept. 15) morning, dropping around 15 percent to $177-per-share. At the time of writing it has slipped further to $159-per-share.


Guidance Figures

The figures actually make for interesting reading. The biggest drop is in those subscribing to receive DVDs in the mail. Streaming is only taking a slight hit. And the number of people choosing the dual option remains the same, despite this being the group hit hardest by the recent price increases.

This means people aren’t ditching Netflix in droves as a result of the price increase. Which, lest we forget, saw people who want both DVDs and streaming options now paying two lots of $7.99 rather than a combined $9.99. Netflix should see this as a positive, and judging by a brief note attached to the new guidance, does. It states the reasons for the price increases as follows:-

(1) to create a dedicated DVD rental division that takes pride in great execution and maximizes the opportunity for disc rental over the coming decade;
(2) to enable us to improve our global streaming service even more rapidly, because it is not meshed with a domestic DVD business;
(3) to enable us, with the growth in revenue, to license more streaming content and thereby improve our streaming service even more;
(4) to remain very price aggressive, with $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming of a huge library of TV shows and movies, and $7.99 per month for unlimited DVD rentals, 1 out at-a-time.

The Future…

Netflix is clear on its strategy going forward, and I have to say it makes sense. I can understand the frustration felt by people suddenly faced with paying 60 percent more every month, but there is the option to choose either DVDs or streaming and actually end up paying less.

If Netflix’ stock stabilizes quickly then I can’t see this being a major problem. If it doesn’t? Then your guess is as good as mine.

 Since the company was founded in 1996, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have worked hard to live up to the company’s unofficial motto, “Do no evil.” Since the company was founded in 1996, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have worked hard to live up to the company’s unofficial motto, “Do no evil.”Google has just announced on its official blog nine improvements to Google+, including some fairly major ones. For those into Google+’s Hangouts, you’ll now be able to participate in them on your cellphone, if your phone is an Android 2.3+ device with a front-facing camera, though Google promises iOS support is coming soon.

Additionally, they’ve added a feature called Hangouts on Air, which isn’t a “hangout” at all so much as it is a broadcast meant for a larger audience, with a limited number of “broadcasters” enabled to start with (and we’re willing to bet that one of those lucky few will be Robert Scoble, an avid Google+ user).

Hangouts have also gotten a few other extra useful features such as screensharing, a sketchpad for doodling, Google Docs support, and the ability to name Hangouts.

Google has also released a basic set of APIs for Google+, and, best of all, opened the service up to everyone with a Google account.

By Laura June, Published: September 20

As GBTV Launches, Former Fox News Host Glenn Beck Claims Online TV Has Killed The Networks

Posted: 12 Sep 2011 07:44 PM PDT

GBTV is now on the air, or on the Web, at least, with the first new Glenn Beck Program having streamed online. But will Glenn Beck actually make money from an Internet-only, subscription-based television network? Most analysts seem to think so, amazingly.

GBTV

In June Glenn Beck launched GBTV, an online television channel only available to subscribers (paying between $4.95 and $9.95-per-month). This came after Beck parted company with Fox News.

The mainstay of GBTV is a two-hour show similar in style to his old network offering. And the first episode of that show has now played out live to an estimated 230,000 people who have already stumped up the cash.

To mark the occasion The Wall Street Journal has taken a long, hard look at the subscription model Beck has used and asked whether the ultra-conservative host will be able to make this work.

Networks Are No More

The key quote from The WSJ article is:

“I think networks are a thing of the past. I don’t know anybody under 30 who is watching television the way I watched television. Technology has allowed people to change the way they consume the news, and we want to be where people are going.”

Beck is bang on the money there. Although many of us still watch TV, we’re increasingly watching it when we choose to, either by the likes of TiVo and Sky Plus, or on-demand online via the likes of Hulu and BBC iPlayer. And the next stage on from that is surely dedicated online TV networks built around genres, brands, or personalities.

Revenue Vs. Profit

This seems like the perfect forum for Beck. While people who hate him and his political views may have tuned in for a laugh while he was on Fox News, none will want to subscribe to GBTV, meaning all the viewers will be on his side. And as it’s effectively his own network he’ll also have complete editorial control, so expect more overblown conspiracy theories and utter nonsense falling from his lips than ever before.

The question, however, is whether Beck can make money doing this. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield estimates will generate $27 million in revenue within the first year, while Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici suggests Beck’s revenue will eventually top $100 million. However, as NewTeeVee accurately points out, this isn’t an all-profit undertaking by any means, with production and bandwidth costs likely to be high.

Conclusions

I actively dislike Glenn Beck, but I take my hat off to him for trying to go his own way with GBTV. And in a strange way I hope he succeeds where so many others have failed. He has at least realized, unlike so many in television, that the Internet has changed things massively and forever.